How to find a day nursery

Day nurseries offer reliable, professional care, and a stimulating, social environment for your baby or child.

Find out what considerations you need to take into account when looking for a day nursery, and how you can find the right one.

Registration and inspections

All day nurseries must be registered and inspected regularly by OFSTED in England, HMIE in Scotland, Estyn in Wales and DENI in Northern Ireland, and their certificate should be on display.

The personal connection

Your child will be spending a lot of time in the nursery you choose, so it’s important to find somewhere that feels nice. If you find it clean, warm and welcoming, and the staff friendly, the chances are your child will like it there too.

And what about the other children? Do they look happy, comfortable and well cared for? Are they busy and occupied?

Ask around your friends and other mums you know to find out what they have heard or experienced at the nursery. And if possible, chat with other parents there.

Practical considerations

There are also some practical considerations to take into account when choosing a day nursery. For example, if your working hours sometimes change at short notice, can you pick up and drop off at different times?

Ask about the day nursery’s procedures for emergencies, and what happens if your child is ill – which illnesses will they allow children to come in with, if any? And very importantly, what security precaution and procedures do they have?

Find out what the staff turnover is like and how many carers will look after your child. Children, particularly young babies, enjoy the stability of regular care.

If your child particularly enjoys certain activities, ask if the nursery does them with the children, for example simple cooking or even forest school expeditions. And what about equipment? Does the day nursery have an interesting selection of toys for your child’s age group? Do they have an outside play area or access to a park?

If the day nursery provides food for the children, ask what kind of meals and snacks they feed, and if your child has an allergy how they will be catered for.

Where to find a day nursery

It’s worth visiting several day nurseries before making up your mind which one is right for you and your child.

To find day nurseries ask around your friends and family and other parents you know for recommendations or look for local nurseries here.